Is Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's first nominee to the Supreme Court, a racist? If we consider only her 2001 comment that women of her race are uniquely qualified by their race to judge others, then certainly so. It describes an inherently racist view. Her long-time membership of an overtly racist organization that actively supports segregation and superiority, La Raza ("The Race"), increases the concern. Certainly, a white male caught in the same positions would be instantly disqualified as a nominee, properly so.
I confess a certain perverse pleasure imagining the reaction from my leftist friends if Clarence Thomas, a man with a much more impressive life story, had been discovered to have said something similar prior to his nomination:
"I would hope that a wise black man with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."Wow! The fireworks would have been spectacular.
Or, imagine Clarence Thomas as a member of Louis Farrakhan's equivalent to La Raza.
That said, I don't believe Ms. Sotomayor any more racist than is the typically superior liberal product of Princeton and Yale. More importantly, both for the argument over her nomination and for the future of the Court, she has not allowed her biases to tilt her decisions on racial matters. Tom Goldstein, writing on SCOTUSBLOG at Judge Sotomayor and Race, has reviewed Judge Sotomayor's complete opinion file as an appellate juror and finds no evidence of racist decisions.
Unfortunately, as so often seems the case when a class-obsessed liberal makes a selection based primarily on membership in a group, as did President Obama, Ms. Sotomayor is far, far from the most qualified choice for one of nine seats on the court. Her legal skills barely reach the unarguably low threshold set by her retiring predecessor, who until this year's performance by Justice Ginsberg held secure the position of weakest justice on the bench. She will not add to the quality of the arguments or opinions, but only, if her colleagues can be believed, to their heat.
Even Judge Sotomayor's most ardent supporters frame their enthusiasm in terms of her life story, not her performance in office. Liberal thinkers looking for an historic change agent are muted in their cheers, weighted by a sense of lost opportunity.
Neither our Constitution nor our political system assure us of only the best qualified nominee or justice. It's potluck and that a nominee is mediocre is not sufficient reason to block a President's choice.